|Publication number||US7412139 B2|
|Application number||US 11/300,216|
|Publication date||Aug 12, 2008|
|Filing date||Dec 13, 2005|
|Priority date||Dec 13, 2005|
|Also published as||US20070133932, WO2007070577A1|
|Publication number||11300216, 300216, US 7412139 B2, US 7412139B2, US-B2-7412139, US7412139 B2, US7412139B2|
|Inventors||Howard A. Kingsford, Kristel Ferry, David P. Kraus, Jr., Mark A. Clarner, William P. Clune|
|Original Assignee||Velcro Industries B.V.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (14), Referenced by (2), Classifications (14), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to lighting and data transfer components, and more particularly to light transmission fibers.
An optical fiber is a transparent thin fiber, usually made of glass or plastic, for transmitting light. The optical fiber can be used as a medium for telecommunication and networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables. In addition to transferring data, fibers can also be used as light guides or fiber optic illuminators.
The light transmitted through the fiber is confined due to total internal reflection within the material. This is an important property that eliminates signal crosstalk between fibers within the cable and allows the routing of the cable with twists and turns. Because of the remarkably low loss and excellent linearity and dispersion behavior of single-mode optical fiber, data rates of up to 40 gigabits per second are available in real-world use on a single wavelength. Wavelength division multiplexing can then be used to allow many wavelengths to be used at once on a single fiber, allowing a single fiber to bear an aggregate bandwidth measured in terabits per second.
Optical fiber is used in vehicles such as airplanes and automobiles. Optical fiber is used in automobiles that have a Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) bus. The MOST bus is a multimedia fiber-optic point-to-point network implemented in a ring, star or daisy-chain topology over plastic optical fibers. The MOST bus specifications define a Physical (Electrical and Optical parameters) Layer as well as an Application Layer, a Network Layer, and Medium Access Control. The MOST bus provides an optical solution for automotive media networks such as video and audio.
Fiber optic light guides are used in applications where bright light needs to be brought to bear on a target without a clear line-of-sight path. Fiber optic illuminators can create a uniform visual effect over lengths of up to 130 feet/40 meters, depending on the illuminator and desired level of brightness.
Light emitters are a key element in any fiber optic system. Lasers or Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) may be used as light emitters to illuminate light guides or fiber optic illuminators. An LED converts the electrical signal into a corresponding light signal that can be injected into the fiber. The light emitter is an important element because its characteristics often strongly influence the final performance limits of a given link. LEDs are complex semiconductors that convert an electrical current into light. The conversion process is fairly efficient in that it generates little heat compared to incandescent lights. LEDs are of interest for fiber optics because of five inherent characteristics: 1) They are small, 2) They possess high radiance (i.e., They emit lots of light in a small area), 3) The emitting area is small, comparable to the dimensions of optical fibers 4) They have a very long life, offering high reliability and 5) They can be modulated (turned off and on) at high speeds.
In general, in one aspect, an elongated fiber optic cable includes at least one light transmitter extending longitudinally along the cable and a body encompassing the light transmitter. The body includes an exposed surface with an array of fastener elements extending from the body. The fastener elements are arranged and constructed to engage mating fastener elements associated with a supporting surface to selectively secure the cable to the supporting surface.
In some embodiments, the light transmitter may be a plastic optical fiber. In other embodiments, the light transmitter may be a glass optical fiber. In some embodiments, the optical fiber may be conducive to the transmission of light along the length of the fiber. In some other embodiments, the optical fiber may be conducive to the transmission of light from a proximate end of the fiber to a distal end of the fiber. In some embodiments, the elongated fiber optic cable may further comprise a light emitting diode device secured to the distal end of the fiber. In some embodiments, the fastener elements may comprise engageable heads. In some embodiments, the fastener elements comprise loop-engageable heads. In some embodiments, the fastener elements may comprise molded stems with downwardly directed molded ends. In some embodiments, the fastener elements are shaped to engage exposed loop fibers associated with the supporting surface. In some embodiments, the base may be a strip-form base.
In some embodiments, the exposed surface of the body comprises a first broad surface of thermoplastic resin, wherein the array of fastener elements are raised projections of the thermoplastic resin. In some other embodiments, the exposed surface of the body comprises a second broad surface of thermoplastic resin, wherein the array of fastener elements are raised projections of the thermoplastic resin. In some other embodiments, the array of fastener elements are substantially coextensive with said first broad surface of the body. In some embodiments, the array of fastener elements form a longitudinal band of fastener elements extending between lateral edge regions of the cable, the lateral edge regions being void of said fastener elements.
In some embodiments, the body comprises a laminate, the laminate including a first and a second layer of thermoplastic resin and an adhesive layer disposed therebetween, the first layer defining a first broad surface of the exposed surface, the second layer defining a second broad surface of the exposed surface, said array of fastener elements comprising raised projections of the thermoplastic resin of at least one of the first and the second broad surfaces. The exposed surface may further comprise a second broad surface of thermoplastic resin and a second array of fastener elements, in which the fastener elements comprise raised projections of the thermoplastic resin extending from the second broad surface. The array of fastener elements may be substantially coextensive with the first broad surface of the body. In other embodiments, the array of fastener elements may form a longitudinal band of fastener elements extending between lateral edge regions of the cable and the lateral edge regions are void of the fastener elements.
In some embodiments, the body comprises a laminate, the laminate includes a first and second layer of thermoplastic resin and an adhesive layer disposed between the layers, the first layer defines a first broad surface of the exposed surface, the second layer defines a second broad surface of the exposed surface, the array of fastener elements comprises raised projections of the thermoplastic resin of at least one of the first and second broad surfaces. In some cases, the body comprises a unitary structure of thermoplastic resin, in which the unitary structure defines a first and a second broad surface of the exposed surface, the array of fastener elements comprise raised projections of the thermoplastic resin of at least one of the first and second broad surfaces. In other embodiments, the body also comprises a first and second layer of thermoplastic resin with the conductors disposed between the first and second layer of thermoplastic resin, the first and second layers permanently welded to one another in a manner to encompass and isolate the optical fibers from one another, the array of fastener elements comprises raised projections of the thermoplastic resin of an exposed surface of one of the first and second layers. The fastener elements may be exposed loop fibers. In some cases, the body comprises a thermoplastic resin and the exposed loop fibers are part of a web of fibers, the web being attached to the body by encapsulation of fibers of the web by the thermoplastic resin. The web of fibers is a nonwoven material. In another aspect, the lighting device defines a fixed cable length between opposite longitudinal ends, the cable further comprising an optical connector optically attached to at least one of the light transmitters and mechanically attached to the cable at one of said longitudinal ends.
In some embodiments, the lighting device may further comprise a heat management system associated with the resin base sheet and arranged to conduct heat from the base of the light emitting diode device. In other embodiments, the heat management system may also comprise molded standoffs integral with the base defining air passages for convective heat transfer. In other embodiments, the heat management system may comprise a thermal conductive portion exposed for engagement by the light emitting diode device for conductive heat transfer. In other embodiments, the thermal conductive portion includes a phase change material. In other embodiments, the resin base sheet may comprise additives that increase the thermal conductivity of the resin base sheet. In other embodiments, the additives are chosen from the group consisting of titanium nitride, boron nitride, silica, aluminum oxide, and ceramic particles. In other embodiments, the heat management system may comprise radiative structures which are comprised of material with a high thermal conductivity in contact with the light emitting diode device. In other embodiments, the heat management system comprises a peltier junction with a hot-side of greater surface area than an associated cold side. In other embodiments, the resin base sheet may comprise a resin that preserves a thermo-formed shape for temperatures up to 350 degrees Centigrade. In other embodiments, the heat management system may comprises a fan proximate the light emitting diode devices. The fan is less than 30 mm in diameter.
In general, in another aspect, a method of continuously forming an optical fiber cable includes introducing a moldable resin into a gap formed adjacent a peripheral surface of a rotating mold roll, the mold roll defining an array of cavities therein, the moldable resin being introduced under pressure and temperature conditions selected to cause the moldable resin to at least partially fill the cavities to form fastener element stems integrally with and extending from one broad surface of a strip of said moldable resin, while introducing at least one longitudinally continuous optical fiber to the gap so as to cause the optical fiber to become an integral part of the strip of moldable resin from which the fastener element stems extend and introducing a laminating material wherein the laminating material covers the optical fiber.
In some embodiments, the laminating material is simultaneously introduced into the gap. In some embodiments, the laminating material is introduced after the mold roll. In some embodiments, the method further comprises providing a heat management system to conduct heat from the cable and supporting the heat management system on the resin base. In some embodiments, the cavities of the mold roll are shaped to mold distal heads on the fastener element stems, the distal heads being shaped to overhang the broad surface of the strip of laminating material so as to be engageable with exposed loop fibers. In some embodiments, each of the stems defines a tip portion and the method further includes deforming the tip portion of a plurality of said stems to form engaging heads overhanging the broad side of the strip of material, the engaging heads being shaped to be engageable with exposed loop fibers. In some embodiments, the gap includes a nip defined between the rotating mold roll and a counter-rotating pressure roll. In some embodiments, the gap includes a nip defined as the space between the rotating mold roll and a counter-rotating mold roll, each of said rotating mold roll and said counter-rotating mold roll defining an array of cavities therein, the moldable resin being introduced under pressure and temperature conditions selected to cause the material to at least partially fill the array of cavities of each of said rotating and said counter-rotating mold roll to form fastener element stems integrally with and extending from each of opposite broad sides of the strip of said moldable resin. In some embodiments, the moldable resin includes a layer of thermoplastic resin and a film backing, the film backing carrying the optical fibers on a surface thereof, the layer of thermoplastic resin being introduced to the gap directly adjacent the rotating mold roll, the film backing carrying the optical fibers being introduced to the gap under pressure and temperature conditions which cause the film backing to become permanently bonded to the thermoplastic resin to at least partially envelop the optical fibers. In some embodiments, the moldable resin includes a first and a second film of thermoplastic resin, wherein the optical fibers and the first and second films are introduced to the gap with the optical fibers disposed between the first and the second film, said first film being introduced directly adjacent the rotating mold roll under temperature and pressure conditions that cause the first and second films to become permanently bonded to each other in a manner enveloping the optical fibers. In some embodiments, the method further includes severing longitudinally the laminating material after solidification to form two optical fiber cables downstream of the gap. In some embodiments, each cable contains at least one of the optical fiber.
In general, in another aspect, a method of continuously forming an optical fiber cable includes introducing molten resin into a gap formed adjacent a rotating mold roll, the mold roll having a peripheral surface defining an array of molding cavities therein, under pressure and temperature conditions selected to cause the resin to fill the mold cavities and form an array of fastener element stems integrally molded with and extending from a broad strip of resin; while simultaneously introducing a preformed optical fiber ribbon-type cable to the nip adjacent the pressure roll, such that the broad strip of resin becomes permanently bonded to a broad side of the ribbon-type cable such that the fastener element stems are exposed.
In general, in another aspect, a method of continuously forming an optical fiber cable comprising providing a fastener tape of continuous length, the fastener tape comprising a base of thermoplastic resin and defining a first and a second, opposite, broad surface, the array of loop engageable fastener elements comprising protrusions of the thermoplastic resin of the first surface, and an array of loop-engageable fastener elements, arranging a backing film of continuous length adjacent the fastener tape, the backing film defining a broad surface, the broad surface of the backing film being arranged to face the second broad surface of the fastener tape, disposing a plurality of spaced apart optical fibers of continuous length between the second broad surface of the fastener tape and the broad surface of the backing film and permanently attaching the fastener tape to the backing film with the plurality of optical fibers enveloped therebetween.
In some embodiments, the method may further includes permanently attaching the fastener tape to the backing film by heat welding along locations between the optical fibers.
In general, in another aspect, a method of forming an optical fiber cable comprises introducing a strip of laminating material into a gap formed adjacent a peripheral surface of a rotating roll, while introducing a continuous strip of loop material having hook-engageable fiber portion to the gap along the surface of the roll, under conditions selected to cause the loop material to become at least partially embedded in the laminating material to permanently bond the loop material to the laminating material while leaving the hook-engageable fiber portions exposed for engagement, and introducing at least two longitudinally continuous and spaced apart optical fibers to the gap so as to cause the material to envelop and isolate the optical fibers in the gap to form a multi-optical fibers cable having engageable loops extending from an outer surface thereof.
The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.
Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.
The apparatus and methods disclosed in this application build upon the continuous extrusion/roll-forming method for molding fastener elements on an integral, sheet-form base described by Fischer in U.S. Pat. No. 4,794,028, the nip lamination process described by Kennedy et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,260,015, method for forming an elongated electrical cable described by Gallant et al. in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/423,816 and the methods and apparatuses of U.S. Application 60/703,330 the entire contents of these documents are incorporated herein by reference. Generally, any of the methods described in Gallant may be used in order to produce a continuous fiber optic cable. The process to produce a continuous optical fiber is almost the same except that unlike the electrical cables in Gallant, the optical fibers do not need to be insulated from one another. The reader is referred to these publications for further information. The relative position and size of the rolls and other components is not to scale.
In some embodiments, such as in
By replacing the nip arrangement
Simultaneously with hook tape 70 and laminate 9, a plurality of optical fibers 8 is introduced between pressure rollers 74, 76 in laterally spaced apart fashion. Optical fibers 8 are positioned between second surface 82 of hook tape 70 and second surface 88 of laminate 9. Pressure roll 74 has a series of protruding rings 90 arranged to contact first surface 92 of hook tape 70 only along regions 94 of the fiber optic cable 2 that lie between the spaced-apart optical fibers 8. Rolls 74 and 76 are heated and positioned to create pressure in the regions 94 corresponding to each ring 90 such that thermal bonding occurs along the contacted regions of fiber optic cable 2. The thermal bonding lines act to permanently weld hook tape 70 to laminate 9 in a manner that isolates optical fibers 8 from one another. Pre-formed hook tape 70 can be provided with regions 94 distinguished by flat areas (as illustrated in
In another alternative, pressure roll 74 acts as an anvil (rotary or stationary) while pressure roll 76 is ultrasonically vibrated at a frequency which causes hook tape 70 to be welded to laminate 9 along the regions 94 where rings 90 contact hook tape 70.
Referring again to
In some embodiments, a clear thermoplastic is used to create transparent areas in which the light from the optical fiber is emitted. In some embodiments, the fastener elements are manufactured on both sides of the optical fiber cable. In some other embodiments, the fastener element is manufactured from the clear thermoplastic thereby allowing the light from the optical fiber to be emitted the fastener element.
A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
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|U.S. Classification||385/100, 264/1.24, 264/165, 385/114, 264/167, 264/1.28, 264/1.29|
|International Classification||G02B6/44, G02B6/04, B29D11/00|
|Cooperative Classification||G02B6/443, G02B6/001|
|European Classification||G02B6/00L4L, G02B6/44C7A|
|Jun 19, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: VELCRO INDUSTRIES B.V., NETHERLANDS ANTILLES
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KINGSFORD, HOWARD A.;FERRY, KRISTEL;KRAUS, JR., DAVID P.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017819/0803
Effective date: 20060616
|Dec 30, 2008||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Sep 23, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4